Part 6 out of 7
could preserve from the rays of the sun: this I endeavoured to effect by
burying them in the sand, and covering them with one end of our plank,
and succeeded very well. Besides these, there were as many to be found
on the shore as we required; I have sometimes found as many as ninety
together. These were our sole support while we remained there: my
children liked them very much. I forgot to add, that I was fortunate
enough to discover a stream of fresh water, running into the sea; it was
the same which runs past this house, and which conducted me here. The
first day we suffered greatly from thirst, but on the second we met
with the stream which saved us. I will not tire you by relating day by
day our sad life; every one was the same, and took away by degrees every
hope from me. As long as I dared to indulge any, I could not bear to
leave the shore; but at last it became insupportable to me. I was worn
out with gazing continually on that boundless horizon, and that moving
crystal which had swallowed up my hopes. I pined for the verdure and
shade of trees. Although I had contrived to make for my daughters little
hats of a marine rush, they suffered much from the extreme heat,--the
burning rays of a tropical sun. I decided at last to abandon that sandy
shore; to penetrate, at all risks, into the country, in order to seek a
shady and cooler abode, and to escape from the view of that sea which
was so painful to me. I resolved not to quit the stream which was so
precious to us, for, not having any vessel to contain water, I could not
carry it with us. Sophia, who is naturally quick, formed, from a large
leaf, a sort of goblet, which served us to drink from; and I filled my
pockets with turtles' eggs, as provision for a few days. I then set off
with my two children, after praying the God of all mercy to watch over
us; and, taking leave of the vast tomb which held my husband and my son,
I never lost sight of the stream; if any obstacle obliged me to turn a
little way from it, I soon recovered my path. My eldest daughter, who
was very strong and robust, followed me stoutly, as I took care not to
walk too far without resting; but I was often compelled to carry my
little Matilda on my shoulders. Both were delighted with the shade of
the woods, and were so amused with the delightful birds that inhabited
them, and a pretty little sportive green monkey, that they became as
playful as ever. They sang and prattled; but often asked me if papa and
Alfred would not soon return to see these pretty creatures, and if we
were going to seek them. These words rent my heart, and I thought it
best then to tell them they would meet no more on earth, and that they
were both gone to heaven, to that good God to whom they prayed morning
and evening. Sophia was very thoughtful, and the tears ran down her
cheeks: 'I will pray to God more than ever,' said she, 'that he may make
them happy, and send them back to us,' 'Mamma,' said Matilda, 'have we
left the sea to go to heaven? Shall we soon be there? And shall we see
beautiful birds like these?' We walked on very slowly, making frequent
rests, till night drew on, and it was necessary to find a place for
repose. I fixed on a sort of thick grove, which I could only enter by
stooping; it was formed of one tree, whose branches, reaching the
ground, take root there, and soon produce other stems, which follow the
same course, and become, in time, an almost impenetrable thicket. Here I
found a place for us to lie down, which appeared sheltered from wild
beasts or savages, whom I equally dreaded. We had still some eggs, which
we ate; but I saw with fear that the time approached when we must have
more food, which I knew not where to find. I saw, indeed, some fruits on
the trees, but I did not know them, and feared to give them to my
children, who wished to have them. I saw also cocoa-nuts, but quite out
of my reach; and even if I could have got them, I did not know how to
open them. The tree under whose branches we had found protection was, I
conjectured, an American fig-tree; it bore a quantity of fruit, very
small and red, and like the European fig. I ventured to taste them, and
found them inferior to ours,--insipid and soft,--but, I thought, quite
harmless. I remarked that the little green monkeys ate them greedily, so
I had no more fear, and allowed my children to regale themselves. I was
much more afraid of wild beasts during the night; however, I had seen
nothing worse than some little quadrupeds resembling the rabbit or
squirrel, which came in numbers to shelter themselves during the night
under our tree. The children wished to catch one, but I could not
undertake to increase my charge. We had a quiet night, and were early
awaked by the songs of the birds. How delighted I was to have escaped
the noise of the waves, and to feel the freshness of the woods, and the
perfume of the flowers, with which my children made garlands, to
decorate my head and their own! These ornaments, during this time of
mourning and bereavement, affected me painfully, and I was weak enough
to forbid them this innocent pleasure; I tore away my garland, and threw
it into the rivulet. 'Gather flowers,' said I, 'but do not dress
yourselves in them; they are no fitting ornaments for us; your father
and Alfred cannot see them.' They were silent and sad, and threw their
garlands into the water, as I had done.
"We followed the stream, and passed two more nights under the trees. We
had the good fortune to find more figs; but they did not satisfy us, and
our eggs were exhausted. In my distress I almost decided to return to
the shore, where we might at least meet with that nourishment. As I sat
by the stream, reflecting mournfully on our situation, the children, who
had been throwing stones into the water, cried out, 'Look, mamma, what
pretty fishes!' I saw, indeed, a quantity of small salmon-trout in the
river; but how could I take them? I tried to seize them with my hands,
but could not catch them; necessity, however, is the mother of
invention. I cut a number of branches with my knife, and wove them
together to make a kind of light hurdle, the breadth of the stream,
which was very narrow just here. I made two of these; my daughters
assisted me, and were soon very skilful. We then undressed ourselves,
and took a bath, which refreshed us much. I placed one of my hurdles
upright across the rivulet, and the second a little lower. The fishes
who remained between attempted to pass, but the hurdles were woven too
close. We watched for them attempting the other passage; many escaped
us, but we captured sufficient for our dinner. We threw them out upon
the grass, at a distance from the stream, so that they could not leap
back. My daughters had taken more than I; but the sensible Sophia threw
back those we did not require, to give them pleasure, she said, and
Matilda did the same, to see them leap. We then removed our hurdles,
dressed ourselves, and I began to consider how I should cook my fish;
for I had no fire, and had never kindled one myself. However, I had
often seen Mr. Hirtel, who was a smoker, light his pipe by means of the
flint and steel; they were in the precious morocco case, together with
tinder and matches. I tried to strike a light, and after some
difficulty succeeded. I collected the fragments of the branches used for
the hurdles, the children gathered some dry leaves, and I had soon a
bright, lively fire, which I was delighted to see, notwithstanding the
heat of the climate. I scraped the scales from the fish with my knife,
washed them in the rivulet, and then placed them on the fire to broil;
this was my apprenticeship in the art of cookery. I thought how useful
it would be to give young ladies some knowledge of the useful arts; for
who can foresee what they may need? Our European dinner delighted us as
much as the bath and the fishing which had preceded it. I decided to fix
our residence at the side of the rivulet, and beneath the fig-trees; my
only objection being the fear of missing some passing vessel which might
carry us back to Europe. But can you understand my feelings, when I
confess to you that, although overcome by sorrow and desolation, having
lost husband, son, and fortune, knowing that in order to support myself
and bring up my children I must depend upon my friends, and to attain
this having to hazard again the dangers of the sea, the very thought of
which made me shudder, I should prefer to remain where Providence had
brought me, and live calmly without obligation to any one? I might
certainly have some difficulty in procuring the means of supporting a
life which was dear to me for the sake of my children; but even this was
an employment and an amusement. My children would early learn to bear
privations, to content themselves with a simple and frugal life, and to
labour for their own support. I might teach them all that I knew would
be useful to them in future, and above all, impress upon their young
minds the great truths of our holy religion. By bringing this constantly
before their unsophisticated understanding, I might hope they would draw
from it the necessary virtues of resignation and contentment. I was only
twenty-three years of age, and might hope, by God's mercy, to be spared
to them some time, and in the course of years who knew what might
happen? Besides we were not so far from the sea but that I might visit
it sometimes, if it were only to seek for turtles' eggs. I remained then
under our fig-tree at night, and by day on the borders of the stream."
"It was under a fig-tree, also," said my wife, "that I have spent four
happy years of my life. Unknown to each other, our fate has been
similar; but henceforward I hope we shall not be separated."
Madame Hirtel embraced her kind friend, and observing that the evening
was advanced, and that my wife, after such agitation, needed repose, we
agreed to defer till next day the conclusion of the interesting
narrative. My elder sons and myself followed the missionary to his hut,
which resembled the king's _palace_, though it was smaller; it was
constructed of bamboos, bound together, and the intervals filled with
moss and clay; it was covered in the same way, and was tolerably solid.
A mat in one corner, without any covering, formed his bed; but he
brought out a bear's skin, which he used in winter, and which he now
spread on the ground for us. I had observed a similar one in the grotto,
and he told us we should hear the history of these skins next day, in
the continuation of the story of Emily, or _Mimi_, as she was
affectionately called by all. We retired to our couch, after a prayer
from Mr. Willis; and for the first time since my dear wife was taken
from me, I slept in peace.
* * * * *
We went to the grotto early in the morning, and found our two invalids
much improved: my wife had slept better, and Mr. Willis found Jack's
wound going on well. Madame _Mimi_ told her daughters to prepare
breakfast: they went out and soon returned, with a native woman and a
boy of four or five years old, carrying newly-made rush baskets filled
with all sorts of fruit: figs, guavas, strawberries, cocoa-nuts, and the
"I must introduce you," said Emily, "to the rest of my family: this is
Canda, the wife of your friend Parabery, and this is their son,
_Minou-minou,_ whom I regard as my own. Your Elizabeth is already
attached to them, and bespeaks your friendship for them. They will
follow us to the Happy Island."
"Oh, if you knew," said Francis, "what a well-behaved boy Minou is! He
can climb trees, run, and leap, though he is less than I am. He must be
"And Canda," said Elizabeth, "shall be our assistant and friend."
She gave her hand to Canda, I did the same, and caressed the boy, who
seemed delighted with me, and, to my great surprise, spoke to me in very
good German--the mother, too, knew several words of the language. They
busied themselves with our breakfast: opened the cocoa-nuts, and poured
the milk into the shells, after separating the kernel; they arranged the
fruits on the trunk of a tree, which served for a table, and did great
credit to the talent of their instructress.
"I should have liked to have offered you coffee," said Madame Hirtel,
"which grows in this island, but having no utensils for roasting,
grinding, or preparing it, it has been useless to me, and I have not
even gathered it."
"Do you think, my dear, that it would grow in our island?" said my wife
to me, in some anxiety.
I then recollected, for the first time, how fond my wife was of coffee,
which, in Europe, had always been her favourite breakfast. There would
certainly be in the ship some bags, which I might have brought away; but
I had never thought of it, and my unselfish wife, not seeing it, had
never named it, except once wishing we had some to plant in the garden.
Now that there was a probability of obtaining it, she confessed that
coffee and bread were the only luxuries she regretted. I promised to try
and cultivate it in our island; foreseeing, however, that it would
probably not be of the best quality, I told her she must not expect
Mocha; but her long privation from this delicious beverage had made her
less fastidious, and she assured me it would be a treat to her. After
breakfast, we begged Madame Hirtel to resume her interesting narrative.
"After the reflections on my situation, which I told you of last night,
I determined only to return to the sea-shore, when our food failed us in
the woods; but I acquired other means of procuring it. Encouraged by
the success of my fishing, I made a sort of net from the filaments of
the bark of a tree and a plant resembling hemp. With these I succeeded
in catching some birds: one, resembling our thrush, was very fat, and of
delicious flavour. I had the greatest difficulty in overcoming my
repugnance to taking away their life; nothing but the obligation of
preserving our own could have reconciled me to it. My children plucked
them; I then spitted them on a slender branch and roasted them before
the fire. I also found some nests of eggs, which I concluded were those
of the wild ducks which frequented our stream. I made myself acquainted
with all the fruits which the monkeys and parroquets eat, and which were
not out of my reach. I found a sort of acorn which had the flavour of a
nut. The children also discovered plenty of large strawberries, a
delicious repast; and I found a quantity of honeycomb in the hollow of a
tree, which I obtained by stupifying the bees with a smoking brand.
"I took care to mark down every day on the blank leaves of my
pocket-book. I had now marked thirty days of my wandering life on the
border of the river, for I never strayed beyond the sound of its waters.
Still I kept continually advancing towards the interior of the island. I
had yet met with nothing alarming, and the weather had been most
favourable; but we were not long to enjoy this comfort. The rainy season
came on: and one night, to my great distress, I heard it descend in
torrents. We were no longer under our fig-tree, which would have
sheltered us for a considerable time. The tree under which we now were
had tempted me by having several cavities between the roots, filled with
soft moss, which formed natural couches, but the foliage was very thin,
and we were soon drenched completely. I crept near my poor children to
protect them a little, but in vain; our little bed was soon filled with
water, and we were compelled to leave it. Our clothes were so heavy with
the rain that we could scarcely stand; and the night was so dark that we
could see no road, and ran the risk of falling, or striking against some
tree, if we moved. My children wept, and I trembled for their health,
and for my own, which was so necessary to them. This was one of the most
terrible nights of my pilgrimage. My children and I knelt down, and I
prayed to our Heavenly Father for strength to bear this trial, if it was
his will to continue it. I felt consolation and strength from my
prayers, and rose with courage and confidence; and though the rain
continued unabated, I waited with resignation the pleasure of the
Almighty. I reconciled my children to our situation; and Sophia told me
she had asked her father, who was near the gracious God, to entreat Him
to send no more rain, but let the sun come back. I assured them God
would not forget them; they began to be accustomed to the rain, only
Sophia begged they might take off their clothes, and then it would be
like a bath in the brook. I consented to this, thinking they would be
less liable to suffer than by wearing their wet garments.
"The day began to break, and I determined to walk on without stopping,
in order to warm ourselves by the motion; and to try to find some cave,
some hollow tree, or some tree with thick foliage, to shelter us the
"I undressed the children, and made a bundle of their clothes, which I
would have carried myself, but I found they would not be too heavy for
them, and I judged it best to accustom them early to the difficulties,
fatigue, and labour, which would be their lot; and to attend entirely on
themselves; I, therefore, divided the clothes into two unequal bundles,
proportioned to their strength, and having made a knot in each, I passed
a slender branch through it, and showed them how to carry it on their
"When I saw them walking before me in this savage fashion, with their
little white bodies exposed to the storm, I could not refrain from
tears. I blamed myself for condemning them to such an existence, and
thought of returning to the shore, where some vessel might rescue us;
but we were now too far off to set about it. I continued to proceed with
much more difficulty than my children, who had nothing on but their
shoes and large hats. I carried the valuable box, in which I had placed
the remains of our last night's supper, an act of necessary prudence, as
there was neither fishing nor hunting now.
"As the day advanced, the rain diminished, and even the sun appeared
above the horizon.
"'Look, my darlings,' said I, 'God has heard us, and sent his sun to
warm and cheer us. Let us thank him,'
"'Papa has begged it of him!' said Matilda. 'Oh! mamma, let us pray him
to send Alfred back!'
"My poor little girl bitterly regretted the loss of her brother. Even
now she can scarcely hear his name without tears. When the savages
brought Francis to us, she at first took him for her brother. 'Oh, how
you have grown in heaven!' cried she; and, after she discovered he was
not her brother, she often said to him, 'How I wish your name
"Forgive me for dwelling so long on the details of my wretched journey,
which was not without its comforts, in the pleasure I took in the
development of my children's minds, and in forming plans for their
future education. Though anything relating to science, or the usual
accomplishments, would be useless to them, I did not wish to bring them
up like young savages; I hoped to be able to communicate much useful
knowledge to them, and to give them juster ideas of this world and
that to come.
"As soon as the sun had dried them, I made them put on their dresses,
and we continued our walk by the brook, till we arrived at the grove
which is before this rock. I removed the branches to pass through it,
and saw beyond them the entrance to this grotto. It was very low and
narrow; but I could not help uttering a cry of joy, for this was the
only sort of retreat that could securely shelter us. I was going to
enter it without thought, not reflecting there might be in it some
ferocious animal, when I was arrested by a plaintive cry, more like that
of a child than a wild beast; I advanced with more caution, and tried to
find out what sort of an inhabitant the cave contained. It was indeed a
human being!--an infant, whose age I could not discover; but it seemed
too young to walk, and was, besides, tied up in leaves and moss,
enclosed in a piece of bark, which was much torn and rent. The poor
infant uttered the most piteous cries, and I did not hesitate a moment
to enter the cave, and to take the innocent little creature in my arms;
it ceased its cries as soon as it felt the warmth of my cheek; but it
was evidently in want of food, and I had nothing to give it but some
figs, of which I pressed the juice into its mouth; this seemed to
satisfy it, and, rocking it in my arms, it soon went to sleep. I had
then time to examine it, and to look round the cave. From the size and
form of the face, I concluded it might be older than I had first
thought; and I recollected to have read that the savages carried their
children swaddled up in this way, even till they could walk. The
complexion of the child was a pale olive, which I have since discovered
is the natural complexion of the natives, before the exposure to the
heat of the sun gives them the bronze hue you have seen; the features
were good, except that the lips were thicker and the mouth larger than
those of the Europeans. My two girls were charmed with it, and caressed
it with great joy. I left them to rock it gently in its cradle of bark,
till I went round this cave, which I intended for my palace, and which I
have never quitted. You see it--the form is not changed; but, since
Heaven has sent me a friend," looking at the missionary, "it is adorned
with furniture and utensils which have completed my comforts. But
"The grotto was spacious, and irregular in form. In a hollow I found,
with surprise, a sort of bed, carefully arranged with moss, dry leaves,
and small twigs. I was alarmed. Was this grotto inhabited by men or by
wild beasts? In either case, it was dangerous to remain here. I
encouraged a hope, however, that, from the infant being here, the mother
must be the inhabitant, and that, on her return, finding me nursing her
child, she might be induced to share her asylum with us. I could not,
however, reconcile this hope with the circumstance of the child being
abandoned in this open cave.
"As I was considering whether I ought to remain, or leave the cave, I
heard strange cries at a distance, mingled with the screams of my
children, who came running to me for protection, bringing with them the
young savage, who fortunately was only half awaked, and soon went to
sleep again, sucking a fig. I laid him gently on the bed of leaves, and
told my daughters to remain near him in a dark corner; then, stepping
cautiously, I ventured to look out to discover what was passing, without
being seen. The noise approached nearer, to my great alarm, and I could
perceive, through the trees, a crowd of men armed with long pointed
lances, clubs, and stones; they appeared furious, and the idea that they
might enter the cave froze me with terror. I had an idea of taking the
little native babe, and holding it in my arms, as my best shield; but
this time my fears were groundless. The whole troop passed outside the
wood, without even looking on the same side as the grotto; they appeared
to follow some traces they were looking out for on the ground. I heard
their shouts for some time, but they died away, and I recovered from my
fears. Still, the dread of meeting them overcame even hunger. I had
nothing left in my box but some figs, which I kept for the infant, who
was satisfied with them, and I told my daughters we must go to bed
without supper. The sleeping infant amused them so much, that they
readily consented to give up the figs. He awoke smiling, and they gave
him the figs to suck. In the mean time, I prepared to release him from
his bondage to make him more comfortable; and I then saw that the outer
covering of bark was torn by the teeth of some animal, and even the skin
of the child slightly grazed. I ventured to carry him to the brook, into
which I plunged him two or three times, which seemed to give him
"I ran back to the cave, which is, you see, not more than twenty yards
distant, and found Sophia and Matilda very much delighted at a treasure
they had found under the dry leaves in a corner. This was a great
quantity of fruits of various kinds, roots of some unknown plant, and a
good supply of beautiful honey, on which the little gluttons were
already feasting. They came directly to give some on their fingers to
their little doll, as they called the babe. This discovery made me very
thoughtful. Was it possible that we were in a bear's den! I had read
that they sometimes carried off infants and that they were very fond of
fruits and of honey, of which they generally had a hoard. I remarked on
the earth, and especially at the entrance, where the rain had made it
soft, the impression of large paws which left me no doubt. The animal
would certainly return to his den, and we were in the greatest danger;
but where could we go? The sky, dark with clouds, threatened a return of
the storm; and the troop of savages might still be wandering about the
island. I had not courage, just as night set in, to depart with my
children; nor could I leave the poor infant, who was now sleeping
peacefully, after his honey and figs. His two nurses soon followed his
example; but for me there was no rest; the noise of the wind among the
trees, and of the rain pattering on the leaves,--the murmur of the
brook,--the light bounds of the kangaroo,--all made my heart beat with
fear and terror; I fancied it was the bear returning to devour us. I had
cut and broken some branches to place before the entrance; but these
were but a weak defence against a furious and probably famished animal;
and if he even did no other harm to my children, I was sure their terror
at the sight of him would kill them. I paced backwards and forwards,
from the entrance to the bed, in the darkness, envying the dear sleepers
their calm and fearless rest; the dark-skinned baby slept soundly,
nestled warmly between my daughters, till day broke at last, without
anything terrible occurring. Then my little people awoke, and cried out
with hunger. We ate of the fruits and honey brought us by our unknown
friend, feeding, also, our little charge, to whom my daughters gave the
pet name of _Minou_, which he still keeps.
"I busied myself with his _toilette_. There was no need to go to the
brook for a bath, for the rain came down incessantly. I then folded
Matilda's apron round him, which pleased her greatly. The rain ceased
for a while, and they set off for flowers to amuse him. They were
scarcely gone when I heard the cries of the savages again; but this time
they seemed rather shouts of joy and triumph; they sung and chaunted a
sort of chorus; but were still at such distance that I had time to recal
my daughters, and withdrew them out of sight. I took _Minou_ with me as
a mediator, and placed myself in an angle of the rock, where I could see
without being seen. They passed, as before, beyond the wood, armed, and
two of them bore at the end of their lances something very large and
dark, which I could not distinguish, but thought might be some wild
beast they had destroyed; afterwards, I flattered myself it might be the
bear, whose return I so greatly dreaded. Following the train was a
woman, naked, with her hair hanging down, uttering loud cries, and
tearing her face and breast. No one attempted to soothe her; but
occasionally one of the bearers of the black mass pointed it out to her;
she then became furious, threw herself on it, and tried to tear it with
her teeth and nails. I was quite overcome with horror and pity.
"That woman, my friends, was Canda, whom you have just seen. Canda,
usually so mild and gentle, was rendered frantic by the loss of her
child,--her first-born,--whom she believed was devoured by the bear.
Parabery, her husband, tried to console her, but was himself in great
sorrow. These bears, as I have since learnt, for there were two of them,
had come from a mountain, at the foot of which was Parabery's hut. They
had only this son, and Canda, according to the custom of the country,
tying it in a piece of bark, carried it on her back. One morning, after
having bathed him in the stream, which has its source near their abode,
she placed him on the turf a few moments, while she was employed in
some household duties. She soon heard his cries, mingled with a sort of
growl; she ran to the spot, and saw a frightful beast holding her child
in its mouth, and running off with it. It was then more than twenty
yards off; her cries brought her husband; she pointed to the horrible
animal, and darted after it, determined to save her child or perish. Her
husband only stopped to seize his javelin, and followed her, but did not
overtake her till fatigue and the heat of the day made her fall, almost
senseless, on the ground. Stopping for a moment to raise and encourage
her, he lost sight of the bear, and could not recover the track. All the
night,--that dreadful night of rain, when I was weeping and murmuring,
thinking myself the most unfortunate of women,--was Canda exposed,
without clothes, to that frightful storm, hopelessly seeking her only
child, and not even feeling that it did rain. Parabery, not less
afflicted, but more composed, went to relate his misfortune to his
neighbours, who, arming themselves, set out, with Parabery at their
head, following the track of the animal over the wet ground. They
discovered it next morning with another bear, so busy devouring a swarm
of bees and their honey, that the savages were able to draw near them.
Parabery pierced one with his spear, and despatched him with a blow of
his club; one of his comrades killed the other, and Parabery tasted the
truly savage joy of vengeance. But the poor mother could not be so
comforted. After wandering through the rain all night, she reached the
party as they were skinning the bear and dividing the flesh. Parabery
only asked and obtained the skins, to recompense him for the loss of his
son. They returned home in triumph, Canda following them with bitter
cries, tearing her face with a shark's tooth. From observation of these
circumstances, I concluded that Canda must be the mother of my little
_protege_. My heart sympathized with her, and I even made some steps
forward to restore him; but the sight of the savage crowd, with their
tattooed bodies, filled me with such terror, that I retreated
involuntarily to the grotto, where my children, alarmed by the noise,
were hiding themselves.
"'Why do the people cry out so?' said Sophia, 'they frighten me. Don't
let them come here, mamma, or they may carry Minou away,'
"'Certainly,' said I; 'and I should have no right to forbid them. I
think they are his friends who are distressed at losing him; I wish I
could restore him to them.'
"'Oh, no! mamma,' said Matilda. 'Pray don't give him back; we like him
so much, and we will be his little mammas. He will be far happier with
us than with those ugly savages, who tied him up like a parcel in the
bark, with the moss which pricked him so much; he is much more
comfortable in my apron. How he moves his legs as if he wanted to walk;
Sophia and I will teach him. Do let us keep him, mimi.'
"Even if I had decided, it was now too late; the savages had passed on
to some distance. I, however, explained to Matilda the beauty of the
divine precept, 'Do unto others as you would they should do unto you,'
asking her how she would have liked to be detained by the savages, and
what, then, would be the suffering of her own mamma? She was thoughtful
for a moment, and then, embracing Minou and me, 'You are right, mamma
mimi; but if she loves her baby, let her come and seek him,' said the
little rebel. In the mean time, Sophia had been out, and returned with
some brilliant flowers, fresh after the rain, with which they made
garlands to dress up the infant. 'Oh! if his mamma saw him, she would be
glad to let us have him,' said Matilda. She then explained to her sister
who this mamma was, and Sophia shed tears to think of the sorrow of the
poor mother. 'But how do you know, mamma, that she was Minou's mother?'
demanded she. This question proved that her judgment was forming, and I
took the opportunity of teaching her what information one may derive
from observation. She understood me very well; and when I told her on
what I had founded my idea, she trembled to think he had been brought
here by a bear, and asked me if the bear would have eaten him.
"'I cannot answer for it,' said I, 'if it had been pressed by hunger;
they tell us, that the bear does no harm to man unless attacked, and is
especially fond of children. But, notwithstanding this, I should not
like to trust it. At all events, the poor babe would have died, if we
had not found him.'
"'Poor babe, he shall not die of hunger now,' said she. 'Let us give him
some figs; but these are not good; we must go and seek some more.'
"The rain having ceased, I consented, passing through the grove, where
there are no fig-trees, to search farther. My daughters had fed the
child with honey and water; it appeared quite reconciled to us, and had
ceased to cry. I judged it might be about eight months old. We soon
found some trees covered with the violet-coloured figs. Whilst I
gathered them, the girls made a pretty bed of moss, adorned with
flowers, for their little favourite, and fed him with the fresh fruit,
which he enjoyed much; and with their fair hair and rosy faces, and the
little negro between them, with his arch, dark countenance, they formed
a charming picture, which affected me greatly."
* * * * *
"We had been more than an hour under the tree, when I heard cries again;
but this time I was not alarmed, for I distinguished the voice of the
disconsolate mother, and I knew that I could comfort her. Her grief
brought her back to the spot where she thought her child had been
devoured; she wished, as she afterwards told us, when we could
understand her, to search for some remains of him,--his hair, his bones,
or even a piece of the bark that bound him; and here he was, full of
life and health. She advanced slowly, sobbing, and her eyes turned to
the ground. She was so absorbed in her search, that she did not see us
when we were but twenty yards from her. Suddenly, Sophia darted like an
arrow to her, took her hand, and said, 'Come, Minou is here.'
"Canda neither knew what she saw nor what she heard; she took my
daughter for something supernatural, and made no resistance, but
followed her to the fig-tree. Even then she did not recognize the
little creature, released from his bonds, half-clothed, covered with
flowers, and surrounded by three divinities, for she took us for such,
and wished to prostrate herself before us. She was still more convinced
of it when I took up her son, and placed him in her arms: she recognized
him, and the poor little infant held out his arms to her. I can never
express to you the transport of the mother; she screamed, clasped her
child till he was half-suffocated, rapidly repeating words which we
could not understand, wept, laughed, and was in a delirium of delight
that terrified Minou. He began to cry, and held out his arms to Sophia,
who, as well as Matilda, was weeping at the sight. Canda looked at them
with astonishment; she soothed the child, and put him to her breast,
which he rejected at first, but finally seized it, and his mother was
happy. I took the opportunity to try and make her comprehend, that the
great animal had brought him here; that we had found him, and taken care
of him; and I made signs for her to follow me, which she did without
hesitation, till we reached the grotto, when, without entering, she fled
away with her infant with such rapidity, that it was impossible to
overtake her, and was soon out of sight.
"I had some difficulty in consoling my daughters for the loss of Minou;
they thought they should see him no more, and that his mother was very
ungrateful to carry him off, without even letting them take leave of
him. They were still weeping and complaining, when we saw the objects of
our anxiety approaching; but Canda was now accompanied by a man, who was
carrying the child. They entered the grotto, and prostrated themselves
before us. You know Parabery; his countenance pleased and tranquillized
us. As a relation of the king, he was distinguished by wearing a short
tunic of leaves; his body was tattooed and stained with various colours;
but not his face, which expressed kindness and gratitude, united with
great intelligence. He comprehended most of my signs. I did not succeed
so well in understanding him; but saw he meant kindly. In the mean time
my daughters had a more intelligible conversation with Canda and Minou;
they half-devoured the latter with caresses, fed him with figs and
honey, and amused him so much, that he would scarcely leave them. Canda
was not jealous of this preference, but seemed delighted with it; she,
in her turn, caressed my daughters, admired their glossy hair and fair
skin, and pointed them out to her husband; she repeated Minou after
them, but always added another _Minou_, and appeared to think this name
beautiful. After some words with Parabery, she placed Minou-Minou in
Sophia's arms, and they both departed, making signs that they would
return; but we did not see them for some time after. Sophia and Matilda
had their full enjoyment of their favourite; they wished to teach him to
walk and to speak, and they assured me he was making great progress.
They were beginning to hope his parents had left him entirely, when they
came in sight, Parabery bending under the weight of two bear-skins, and
a beautiful piece of matting to close the entrance to my grotto; Canda
carried a basket on her head filled with fine fruit; the cocoa, the
bread-fruit (which they call _rima_), pine-apples, figs, and, finally,
a piece of bear's flesh, roasted at the fire, which I did not like; but
I enjoyed the fruits and the milk of the cocoa-nut, of which Minou-Minou
had a good share. They spread the bear-skins in the midst of the grotto;
Parabery, Canda, and the infant, between them, took possession of one
without ceremony, and motioned to us to make our bed of the other. But
the bears having only been killed the evening before, these skins had an
intolerable smell. I made them comprehend this, and Parabery immediately
carried them off and placed them in the brook, secured by stones. He
brought us in exchange a heap of moss and leaves, on which we slept
"From this moment we became one family. Canda remained with us, and
repaid to my daughters all the care and affection they bestowed on
Minou-Minou. There never was a child had more indulgence; but he
deserved it, for his quickness and docility. At the end of a few months
he began to lisp a few words of German, as well as his mother, of whom I
was the teacher, and who made rapid progress. Parabery was very little
with us, but he undertook to be our purveyor, and furnished us
abundantly with everything necessary for our subsistence. Canda taught
my daughter to make beautiful baskets,--some, of a flat form, served for
our plates and dishes. Parabery made us knives from sharp stones. My
daughters, in return, taught Canda to sew. At the time of our shipwreck
we had, each of us, in her pocket, a morocco housewife, with a store of
needles and thread. By means of these we had mended our linen, and we
now made dresses of palm-leaves. The bear-skins, washed in the stream,
and thoroughly dried in the burning sun, have been very useful to us in
the cold and rainy season. Now that we had guides, we made, in the fine
season, excursions to different parts of the island. Minou-Minou soon
learned to walk, and being strong, like all these islanders, would
always accompany us. We went one day to the sea-shore. I shuddered at
the sight, and Canda, who knew that my husband and child had perished in
the sea, wept with me. We now spoke each other's language well enough to
converse. She told me that a _black friend_ (Emily bowed to Mr. Willis)
had arrived in a neighbouring island, to announce to them that there was
a Being, almighty and all-merciful, who lived in Heaven, and heard all
they said. Her comprehension of this truth was very confused, and I
endeavoured to make it more clear and positive.
"'I see very well,' said she, 'that you know him. Is it to Him that you
speak every morning and evening, kneeling as we do before our king
"'Yes, Canda,' said I, 'it is before Him who is the King of Kings, who
gave us our life, who preserves it, and bestows on us all good, and who
promises us still more when this life is past.'
"'Was it he who charged you to take care of Minou-Minou, and to restore
him to me?' asked she.
"'Yes, Canda; all that you or I do that is good, is put into our hearts
"I thus tried to prepare the simple mind of Canda for the great truths
that Mr. Willis was to teach her."
"You left me little to do," said Mr. Willis. "I found Parabery and
Canda prepared to believe, with sincere faith, the holy religion I came
to teach--the God of the white people was the only one they adored. I
knew Parabery, he had come to hunt seals in the island where I was
established, and I was struck by his appearance. What was my
astonishment to find, that when I spoke to him of the one true God, he
was no stranger to the subject. He had even some ideas of a Saviour, and
of future rewards and punishments.
"'It was the white lady,' said he, 'who taught me this; she teaches
Canda and Minou-minou, whose life she saved, and whom she is bringing up
to be good like herself.'
"I had a great desire," continued Mr. Willis, "to become acquainted with
my powerful assistant in the great work of my mission. I told Parabery
this, who offered to bring me here in his canoe; I came and found, in a
miserable cave, or rather in a bear's den, all the virtues of mature age
united to the charms of youth; a resigned and pious mother, bringing up
her children, as women should be brought up, in simplicity, forbearance,
and love of industry; teaching them, as the best knowledge, to love God
with all their heart, and their neighbour as themselves. Under the
inspection of their mother, they were educating the son of Parabery.
This child, then four years and a half old, spoke German well, and knew
his alphabet, which Madame Hirtel traced on the floor of the grotto; in
this way she taught her daughters to read; they taught Minou-minou, who,
in his turn, teaches his parents. Parabery often brings his friends to
the grotto, and Madame Hirtel, having acquired the language, casts into
their hearts the good seed, which I venture to hope will not be
"Finding these people in such a good state, and wishing to enjoy the
society of a family, like myself, banished to a remote region, I decided
to take up my abode in this island.
"Parabery soon built me a hut in the neighbourhood of the grotto; Madame
Hirtel compelled me to take one of her bear-skins. I have by degrees
formed my establishment, dividing with my worthy neighbour the few
useful articles I brought from Europe, and we live a tranquil and
"And now comes the time that brought about our meeting. Some of our
islanders, in a fishing expedition, were driven by the wind on your
island. At the entrance of a large bay, they found a small canoe of
bark, carefully moored to a tree. Either their innate propensity for
theft, or the notion that it had no owner, prevailed over them, and they
brought it away. I was informed of this, and was curious to see it; I
recognized at once that it was made by Europeans: the careful finish,
the neat form, the oars, rudder, mast, and triangular sail, all showed
that it had not been made by savages. The seats of the rowers were made
of planks, and were painted, and what further convinced me was, that I
found in it a capital gun, loaded, and a horn of powder in a hole under
one of the seats. I then made particular inquiries about the island from
whence they had brought the canoe; and all their answers confirmed my
idea that it must be inhabited by a European, from whom they had
perhaps taken his only means of leaving it.
"Restless about this fancy, I tried to persuade them to return and
discover if the island was inhabited. I could not prevail on them to
restore the canoe; but, seeing me much agitated, they resolved secretly
to procure me a great pleasure as they thought, by returning to the
island and bringing away any one they could meet with, whether he would
or not. Parabery, always the leader in perilous enterprises, and who was
so attached to me, would not be left out in one which was to produce me
such pleasure. They set out, and you know the result of their
expedition. I leave it to your wife to tell you how she was brought
away, and pass on to the time of their arrival. My people brought them
to me in triumph, and were vexed that they had only found one woman and
a child, whom I might give to the white lady. This I did promptly. Your
wife was ill and distressed, and I carried her immediately to the
grotto. There she found a companion who welcomed her with joy; Francis
replaced her own lost Alfred, and the two good mothers were soon
intimate friends. But, notwithstanding this solace, your Elizabeth was
inconsolable at the separation from her husband and children, and
terrified at the danger to which you would expose yourself in searching
for her. We were even afraid she would lose her reason, when the king
came to take away Francis. He had seen him on his arrival, and was much
taken with his appearance; he came again to see him, and resolved to
adopt him as his son. You know what passed on this subject; and now you
are once more united to all those who are dear to you.
"Bless God, brother, who knows how to produce good from what we think
evil, and acknowledge the wisdom of his ways. You must return all
together to your island; I am too much interested in the happiness of
Emily to wish to detain her; and if God permits me, when my missions are
completed, I will come to end my days with you, and to bless your
I suppress all our reflections on this interesting history, and our
gratitude for the termination of our trials, and hasten to the recital,
which, at my particular entreaty, my wife proceeded to give us.
* * * * *
"My story," she began, "will not be long. I might make it in two
words,--_you have lost me, and you have found me_. I have every reason
to thank Heaven for a circumstance, which has proved to me how dear I am
to you, and has given me the happiness of gaining a friend and two dear
daughters. Can one complain of an event which has produced such
consequences, even though it was attended with some violence? But I
ought to do the savages justice,--this violence was as gentle as it
could be. I need only tell you Parabery was there, to convince you I was
well treated, and it was solely the sorrow of being parted from you that
affected my health. I shall be well now, and as soon as Jack can walk,
I shall be ready to embark for our happy island. I will now tell you how
I was brought away.
"When you and our three sons left, to make the tour of the island, I was
very comfortable; you had told me you might return late, or probably not
till next day, and when the evening passed away without seeing you, I
was not uneasy. Francis was constantly with me; we went together to
water the garden, and rested in the Grotto Ernestine; then I returned to
the house, took my wheel, and placed myself in my favourite colonnade,
where I should be the first to see your return. Francis, seeing me at
work, asked if he might go as far as the bridge to meet you; to which I
readily consented. He set out, and I was sitting, thinking of the
pleasure I should have in seeing you again, and hearing you relate your
voyage, when I saw Francis running, crying out, 'Mamma! mamma! there is
a canoe on the sea; I know it is ours; it is full of men,
"'Silly little fellow!' said I, 'it is your father and brothers; if they
are in the canoe, there can be no doubt of it. Your father told me he
would bring it, and they would return by water; I had forgotten this
when I let you go. Now you can go and meet them on the shore; give me
your arm, and I will go too,' and we set off very joyfully to meet our
captors. I soon, alas! saw my error; it was, indeed, our canoe, but,
instead of my dear ones, there were in it six half-naked savages, with
terrible countenances, who landed and surrounded us. My blood froze with
fright, and if I had wished to flee, I was unable. I fell on the shore,
nearly insensible; still, I heard the cries of my dear Francis, who
clung to me, and held me with all his strength; at last my senses quite
failed me, and I only recovered to find myself lying at the bottom of
the canoe. My son, weeping over me, was trying to recover me, assisted
by one of the savages, of less repulsive appearance than his companions,
and who seemed the chief; this was Parabery. He made me swallow a few
drops of a detestable fermented liquor, which, however, restored me. I
felt, as I recovered, the extent of my disaster, and your grief, my
dears, when you should find me missing. I should have been wholly
disconsolate, but that Francis was left to me, and he was continually
praying me to live for his sake. I received some comfort from a vague
notion that as this was our canoe, the savages had already carried you
off, and were taking us to you.
"I was confirmed in this hope, when I saw that the savages, instead of
making to sea, continued to coast the island, till they came to the
Great Bay. I had then no doubt but that we should meet with you; but
this hope was soon destroyed. Two or three more of the savages were
waiting there on the shore; they spoke to their friends in the canoe;
and I understood from their gestures, that they were saying they could
not find anybody there. I have since learnt from Canda, that part of
them landed at the Great Bay, with instructions to search that side of
the island for inhabitants, whilst the rest proceeded with the canoe to
examine the other side, and had succeeded but too well. The night came
on, and they were anxious to return, which, doubtless, prevented them
pillaging our house. I believe, moreover, that none of them could have
reached Tent House, defended by our strong palisade, and hidden by
the rocks amidst which it is built; and the other party, finding us on
the shore, would not penetrate further.
[Illustration: "Six savages with terrible countenances, landed and
"When all had entered the canoe, they pushed off, by the light of the
stars, into the open sea. I think I must have sunk under my sorrow, but
for Francis, and, I must confess it, my dear dog Flora, who had never
left me. Francis told me, that she had tried to defend me, and flew at
the savages; but one of them took my apron, tore it, and tied it over
her mouth like a muzzle, bound her legs, and then threw her into the
canoe, where the poor creature lay at my feet, moaning piteously. She
arrived with us in this island, but I have not seen her since; I have
often inquired of Parabery, but he could not tell me what had become
"But I know," said Fritz, "and have seen her. We brought Turk with us,
and the savages had carried Flora to that desert part of the island,
from whence Jack was carried off; so the two dogs met. When I had the
misfortune to wound Jack, I quite forgot them; they were rambling off,
in chase of kangaroos; we left them, and no doubt they are there still.
But we must not abandon the poor beasts; if my father will permit me, I
will go and seek them in Parabery's canoe."
As we were obliged to wait a few days for Jack's recovery, I consented,
on condition that Parabery accompanied them, and the next day was fixed
for the expedition. Ernest begged to be of the party, that he might see
the beautiful trees and flowers they had described. I then requested the
narration might be continued, which had been interrupted by this
episode of the two dogs. Francis resumed it where his mother had
"We had a favourable passage--the sea was calm, and the boat went so
smoothly, that both mamma and I went to sleep. You must have come a much
longer round than necessary, papa, as your voyage lasted three days, and
we arrived here the day after our departure. Mamma was then awake, and
wept constantly, believing she should never more see you or my brothers.
Parabery seemed very sorry for her, and tried to console her; at last,
he addressed to her two or three words of German, pointing to heaven.
His words were very plain--_Almighty God, good_; and then _black
friend_, and _white lady_; adding the words _Canda, bear_, and
_Minou-minou_. We did not understand what he meant; but he seemed so
pleased at speaking these words, that we could not but be pleased too;
and to hear him name God in German gave us confidence, though we could,
not comprehend where or how he had learnt the words. 'Perhaps,' said
mamma, 'he has seen your papa and brothers,' I thought so too; still, it
appeared strange that, in so short a time, he could acquire and remember
these words. However it might be, mamma was delighted to have him near
her, and taught him to pronounce the words _father, mother_, and _son_,
which did not seem strange to him, and he soon knew them. She pointed to
me and to herself, as she pronounced the words, and he readily
comprehended them, and said to us, with bursts of laughter, showing his
large ivory teeth, _Canda, mother; Minou-minou, son; Parabery, father;
white lady, mother_. Mamma thought he referred to her, but it was to
Madame Emily. He tried to pronounce this name and two others, but could
not succeed; at last, he said, _girls, girls_, and almost convinced us
he must know some Europeans, which was a great comfort to us.
"When I saw mamma more composed, I took out my flageolet to amuse her,
and played the air to Ernest's verses. This made her weep again very
much, and she begged me to desist; the savages, however, wished me to
continue, and I did not know whom to obey. I changed the air, playing
the merriest I knew. They were in ecstasies; they took me in their arms
one after the other, saying, _Bara-ourou, Bara-ourou_. I repeated the
word after them, and they were still more delighted. But mamma was so
uneasy to see me in their arms, that I broke from them, and returned
"At last we landed. They carried mamma, who was too weak to walk. About
a hundred yards from the shore, we saw a large building of wood and
reeds, before which there was a crowd of savages. One who was very tall
came to receive us. He was dressed in a short tunic, much ornamented,
and wore a necklace of pierced shells. He was a little disfigured by a
white bone passed through his nostrils. But you saw him, papa, when he
wanted to adopt me; it was Bara-ourou, the king of the island. I was
presented to him, and he was pleased with me, touched the end of my nose
with his, and admired my hair very much. My conductors ordered me to
play on the flageolet. I played some lively German airs, which made them
dance and leap, till the king fell down with fatigue, and made a sign
for me to desist. He then spoke for some time to the savages, who stood
in a circle round him. He looked at mamma, who was seated in a corner,
near her protector Parabery. He called the latter, who obliged mamma to
rise, and presented her to the king. Bara-ourou looked only at the red
and yellow India handkerchief which she wore on her head; he took it
off, very unceremoniously, and put it on his own head, saying, _miti_,
which means beautiful. He then made us re-embark in the canoe with him,
amusing himself with me and my flageolet, which he attempted to play by
blowing it through his nose, but did not succeed. After turning round a
point which seemed to divide the island into two, we landed on a sandy
beach. Parabery and another savage proceeded into the interior, carrying
my mother, and we followed. We arrived at a hut similar to the king's,
but not so large. There we were received by Mr. Willis, whom we judged
to be the _black friend_, and from that time we had no more fears. He
took us under his protection, first speaking to the king and to Parabery
in their own language. He then addressed mamma in German, mixed with a
few English words, which we understood very well. He knew nothing of you
and my brothers; but, from what mamma told him, he promised to have you
sought for, and brought as soon as possible to the island. In the mean
time, he offered to lead us to a friend who would take care of us, and
nurse poor mamma, who looked very ill. She was obliged to be carried to
the grotto; but, after that, her cares were over, and her pleasure
without alloy; for the _black friend_ had promised to seek you. The
_white lady_ received us like old friends, and Sophia and Matilda took
me at first for their own brother, and still love me as if I was. We
only wished for you all. Madame Mimi made mamma lie down on the
bear-skin, and prepared her a pleasant beverage from the milk of the
cocoa-nut. Sophia and Matilda took me to gather strawberries, and figs,
and beautiful flowers; and we caught fish in the brook, between two
osier hurdles. We amused ourselves very well with Minou-minou, while
Canda and Madame Emily amused mamma.
"The king came the next day to see his little favourite; he wished me to
go with him to another part of the island, where he often went to hunt;
but I would not leave mamma and my new friends. I was wrong, papa; for
you were there, and my brothers; it was there Jack was wounded and
brought away. I might have prevented all that, and you would then have
returned to us. How sorry I have been for my obstinacy! It was I, more
than Fritz, who was the cause of his being wounded.
"Bara-ourou returned in the evening to the grotto; and think, papa, of
our surprise, our delight, and our distress, when he brought us poor
Jack, wounded and in great pain, but still all joy at finding us again!
The king told Mr. Willis he was sure Jack was my brother, and he made us
a present of him, adding, that he gave him in exchange for mamma's
handkerchief. Mamma thanked him earnestly, and placed Jack beside her.
From him she learned all you had done to discover us. He informed Mr.
Willis where he had left you, and he promised to seek and bring you to
us. He then examined the wound, which Jack wished him to think he had
himself caused with Fritz's gun; but this was not probable, as the ball
had entered behind, and lodged in the shoulder. Mr. Willis extracted it
with some difficulty, and poor Jack suffered a good deal; but all is now
going on well. What a large party we shall be, papa, when we are all
settled in our island; Sophia and Matilda, Minou-Minou, Canda, Parabery,
you, papa, and two mammas, and Mr. Willis!"
My wife smiled as the little orator concluded. Mr. Willis then dressed
Jack's wound, and thought he might be removed in five or six days.
"Now, my dear Jack," said I, "it is your turn to relate your history.
Your brother left off where you were entertaining the savages with your
buffooneries; and certainly they were never better introduced. But how
did they suddenly think of carrying you away?"
"Parabery told me," said Jack, "that they were struck with my
resemblance to Francis as soon as I took my flageolet. After I had
played a minute or two, the savage who wore mamma's handkerchief, whom I
now know to be the king, interrupted me by crying out and clapping his
hands. He spoke earnestly to the others, pointing to my face, and to my
flageolet, which he had taken; he looked also at my jacket of blue
cotton, which one of them had tied round his shoulders like a mantle;
and doubtless he then gave orders for me to be carried to the canoe.
They seized upon me; I screamed like a madman, kicked them and scratched
them; but what could I do against seven or eight great savages? They
tied my legs together, and my hands behind me, and carried me like a
parcel. I could then do nothing but cry out for Fritz; and the knight of
the gun came rather too soon. In attempting to defend me, some way or
other, off went his gun, and the ball took up its abode in my shoulder.
I can assure you an unpleasant visitor is that same ball; but here he
is, the scoundrel! Father Willis pulled him out by the same door as that
by which he went in; and since his departure, all goes on well.
"Now for my story. When poor Fritz saw that I was wounded, he fell down
as if he had been shot at the same time. The savages, thinking he was
dead, took away his gun, and carried me into the canoe. I was in despair
more for the death of my brother than from my wound, which I almost
forgot, and was wishing they would throw me into the sea, when I saw
Fritz running at full speed to the shore; but we pushed off, and I could
only call out some words of consolation. The savages were very kind to
me, and one of them held me up seated on the out-rigger; they washed my
wound with sea-water, sucked it, tore my pocket-handkerchief to make a
bandage, and as soon as we landed, squeezed the juice of some herb into
it. We sailed very quickly, and passed the place where we had landed in
the morning. I knew it again, and could see Ernest standing on a
sand-bank; he was watching us, and I held out my arms to him. I thought I
also saw you, papa, and heard you call; but the savages yelled, and
though I cried with all my strength, it was in vain. I little thought
they were taking me to mamma. As soon as we had disembarked, they
brought me to this grotto; and I thought I must have died of surprise
and joy when I was met by mamma and Francis, and then by Sophia,
Matilda, mamma Emily, and Mr. Willis, who is a second father to me.
This is the end of my story. And a very pretty end it is, that brings us
all together. What matters it to have had a little vexation for all this
pleasure? I owe it all to you, Fritz; if you had let me sink to the
bottom of the sea, instead of dragging me out by the hair, I should not
have been here so happy as I am; I am obliged to the gun, too; thanks to
it, I was the first to reach mamma, and see our new friends."
The next day, Fritz and Ernest set out on their expedition with
Parabery, in his canoe, to seek our two valued dogs. The good islander
carried his canoe on his back to the shore. I saw them set off, but not
without some dread, in such a frail bark, into which the water leaked
through every seam. But my boys could swim well; and the kind, skilful,
and bold Parabery undertook to answer for their safety. I therefore
recommended them to God, and returned to the grotto, to tranquillize my
wife's fears. Jack was inconsolable that he could not form one of the
party; but Sophia scolded him for wishing to leave them, to go upon the
sea, which had swallowed up poor Alfred.
In the evening we had the pleasure of seeing our brave dogs enter the
grotto. They leaped on us in a way that terrified the poor little girls
at first, who took them for bears; but they were soon reconciled to them
when they saw them fawn round us, lick our hands, and pass from one to
the other to be caressed. My sons had had no difficulty in finding them;
they had run to them at the first call, and seemed delighted to see
their masters again.
The poor animals had subsisted on the remains of the kangaroos, but
apparently had met with no fresh water, for they seemed dying with
thirst, and rushed to the brook as soon as they discovered it, and
returned again and again. Then they followed us to the hut of the good
missionary, who had been engaged all day in visiting the dwellings of
the natives, and teaching them the truths of religion. I had accompanied
him, but, from ignorance of the language, could not aid him. I was,
however, delighted with the simple and earnest manner in which he spoke,
and the eagerness with which they heard him. He finished by a prayer,
kneeling, and they all imitated him, lifting up their hands and eyes to
heaven. He told me he was trying to make them celebrate the Sunday. He
assembled them in his tent, which he wished to make a temple for the
worship of the true God. He intended to consecrate it for this purpose,
and to live in the grotto, after our departure.
The day arrived at last. Jack's shoulder was nearly healed, and my
wife, along with her happiness, recovered her strength. The pinnace had
been so well guarded by Parabery and his friends that it suffered no
injury. I distributed among the islanders everything I had that could
please them, and made Parabery invite them to come and see us in our
island, requesting we might live on friendly terms. Mr. Willis wished
much to see it, and to complete our happiness he promised to accompany
and spend some days with us; and Parabery said he would take him back
when he wished it.
We embarked, then, after taking leave of Bara-ourou, who was very
liberal in his presents, giving us, besides fruits of every kind, a
whole hog roasted, which was excellent.
We were fourteen in number; sixteen, reckoning the two dogs. The
missionary accompanied us, and a young islander, whom Parabery had
procured to be his servant, as he was too old and too much occupied with
his mission to attend to his own wants. This youth was of a good
disposition and much attached to him. Parabery took him to assist in
rowing when he returned.
Emily could not but feel rather affected at leaving the grotto, where
she had passed four tranquil, if not happy years, fulfilling the duties
of a mother. Neither could she avoid a painful sensation when she once
more saw the sea that had been so fatal to her husband and son; she
could scarcely subdue the fear she had of trusting all she had left to
that treacherous element. She held her daughters in her arms, and prayed
for the protection of Heaven. Mr. Willis and I spoke to her of the
goodness of God, and pointed out to her the calmness of the water, the
security of the pinnace, and the favourable state of the wind. My wife
described to her our establishment, and promised her a far more
beautiful grotto than the one she had left, and at last she became more
After seven or eight hours' voyage, we arrived at Cape Disappointment,
and we agreed the bay should henceforth be called the Bay of the
The distance to Tent House from hence was much too great for the ladies
and children to go on foot. My intention was to take them by water to
the other end of the island near our house; but my elder sons had
begged to be landed at the bay, to seek their live stock, and take them
home. I left them there with Parabery; Jack recommended his buffalo to
them, and Francis his bull, and all were found. We coasted the island,
arrived at Safety Bay, and were soon at Tent House, where we found all,
as we had left it, in good condition.
Notwithstanding the description my wife had given them, our new guests
found our establishment far beyond their expectation. With what delight
Jack and Francis ran up and down the colonnade with their young friends!
What stories they had to tell of all the surprises they had prepared for
their mother! They showed them _Fritzia, Jackia_, the _Franciade_, and
gave their friends water from their beautiful fountain. Absence seemed
to have improved everything; and I must confess I had some difficulty to
refrain from demonstrating my joy as wildly as my children. Minou-minou,
Parabery, and Canda, were lost in admiration, calling out continually,
_miti_! beautiful! My wife was busied in arranging a temporary lodging
for our guests. The work-room was given up to Mr. Willis; my wife and
Madame Emily had our apartment, the two little girls being with them, to
whom the hammocks of the elder boys were appropriated. Canda, who knew
nothing about beds, was wonderfully, comfortable on the carpet. Fritz,
Ernest, and the two natives, stowed themselves wherever they wished, in
the colonnade, or in the kitchen; all was alike to them. I slept on moss
and cotton in Mr. Willis's room, with my two younger sons. Every one was
content, waiting till our ulterior arrangements were completed.
I must conclude my journal here. We can scarcely be more happy than we
are, and I feel no cares about my children. Fritz is so fond of the
chase and of mechanics, and Ernest of study, that they will not wish to
marry; but I please myself by hoping at some time to see my dear Jack
and Francis happily united to Sophia and Matilda. What remains for me to
tell? The details of happiness, however sweet in enjoyment, are often
tedious in recital.
I will only add, that after passing a few days with us, Mr. Willis
returned to his charge, promising to visit us, and eventually to join
us. The Grotto Ernestine, fitted up by Fritz and Parabery, made a pretty
abode for Madame Hirtel and her daughters, and the two islanders.
Minou-minou did not leave his young mammas, and was very useful to them.
I must state, also, that my son Ernest, without abandoning the study of
natural history, applied himself to astronomy, and mounted the large
telescope belonging to the ship; he acquired considerable knowledge of
this sublime science, which his mother, however, considered somewhat
useless. The course of the other planets did not interest her, so long
as all went on well in that which she inhabited; and nothing now was
wanting to her happiness, surrounded as she was by friends.
The following year we had a visit from a Russian vessel, the _Neva_,
commanded by Captain Krusenstern, a countryman and distant relation of
mine. The celebrated Horner, of Zurich, accompanied him as astronomer.
Having read the first part of our journal, sent into Europe by Captain
Johnson, he had come purposely to see us. Delighted with our
establishment, he did not advise us to quit it. Captain Krusenstern
invited us to take a passage in his vessel; we declined his offer; but
my wife, though she renounced her country for ever, was glad of the
opportunity of making inquiries about her relations and friends. As she
had concluded, her good mother had died some years before, blessing her
absent children. My wife shed some tears, but was consoled by the
certainty of her mother's eternal felicity, and the hope of their
meeting in futurity.
One of her brothers was also dead; he had left a daughter, to whom my
wife had always been attached, though she was very young when we left.
Henrietta Bodmer was now sixteen, and, Mr. Horner assured us, a most
amiable girl. My wife wished much to have her with us.
Ernest would not leave Mr. Horner a moment, he was so delighted to meet
with one so eminently skilful in his favourite science. Astronomy made
them such friends, that Mr. Horner petitioned me to allow him to take my
son to Europe, promising to bring him back himself in a few years. This
was a great trial to us, but I felt that his taste for science required
a larger field than our island. His mother was reluctant to part with
him, but consoled herself with a notion, that he might bring his cousin
Henrietta back with him.
Many tears were shed at our parting; indeed, the grief of his mother was
so intense, that my son seemed almost inclined to give up his
inclination; but Mr. Horner made some observations about the transit of
Venus, so interesting that Ernest could not resist. He left us,
promising to bring us back everything we wished for. In the mean time
Captain Krusenstern left us a good supply of powder, provisions, seeds,
and some capital tools, to the great delight of Fritz and Jack. They
regretted their brother greatly, but diverted their minds from sorrow by
application to mechanics, assisted by the intelligent Parabery. They
have already succeeded in constructing, near the cascade, a corn-mill
and a saw-mill, and have built a very good oven.
We miss Ernest very much. Though his taste for study withdrew him a good
deal from us, and he was not so useful as his brothers, we found his
calm and considerate advice often of value, and his mildness always
spread a charm over our circle, in joy or in trouble.
Except this little affliction, we are very happy. Our labours are
divided regularly. Fritz and Jack manage the Board of Works. They have
opened a passage through the rock which divided us from the other side
of the island; thus doubling our domain and our riches. At the same
time, they formed a dwelling for Madame Hirtel near our own, from the
same excavation in the rock. Fritz took great pains with it; the windows
are made of oiled paper instead of glass; but we usually assemble in our
large work-room, which is very well lighted.
Francis has the charge of our flocks and of the poultry, all greatly
increased. For me, I preside over the grand work of agriculture. The two
mothers, their two daughters, and Canda, manage the garden, spin,
weave, take care of our clothes, and attend to household matters. Thus
we all work, and everything prospers. Several families of the natives,
pupils of Mr. Willis, have obtained leave, through him, to join us, and
are settled at Falcon's Nest, and at the Farm. These people assist us in
the cultivation of our ground, and our dear missionary in the
cultivation of our souls. Nothing is wanting to complete our happiness
but the return of dear Ernest.
POSTSCRIPT TWO YEARS AFTER.
We are now as happy as we can desire,--our son is returned. According to
my wishes, he had made out Captain Johnson and Lieutenant Bell, our
first visitors, whom the storm had driven from us, but who were still
determined to see us again. My son found them preparing for another
voyage to the South Seas. He at once seized the opportunity of
accompanying them, impatiently desirous to revisit the island, and to
bring to us Henrietta Bodmer, now become his wife. She is a simple,
amiable Swiss girl, who suits us well, and who is delighted to see once
more her kind aunt, now become her mother.
My wife is overjoyed; this is her first daughter-in-law, but Jack and
Francis, as well as Sophia and Matilda, are growing up; and moreover, my
dear wife, who has great ideas of married happiness, hopes to induce
Emily to consent to be united to Fritz at the same time as her daughters
are married. Fritz would feel all the value of this change; his
character is already softened by her society, and though she is a few
years older than he is, she is blessed with all the vivacity of youth.
Mr. Willis approves of this union, and we hope he will live to solemnize
the three marriages. Ernest and Henrietta inhabit the Grotto Ernestine,
which his brothers fitted up as a very tasteful dwelling. They had even,
to gratify their brother, raised on the rock above the grotto a sort of
observatory, where the telescope is mounted, to enable him to make his
astronomical observations. Yet I perceive his passion for exploring
distant planets is less strong, since he has so much to attach him
I give this conclusion of my journal to Captain Johnson, to take into
Europe, to be added to the former part. If any one of my readers be
anxious for further particulars respecting our colony and our mode of
life, let him set out for the Happy Island; he will be warmly welcomed,
and may join with us in Ernest's chorus, which we now sing with
All we love around us smile,
Joyful is our Desert Isle.
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